UN probe identifies suspects in Hariri murder

UN investigators probing the 2005 murder of Lebanese ex-premier Rafiq Hariri have identified several people who may have been involved in the slaying, according to a report released.

UN probe identifies suspects in Hariri murder
UN investigators probing the 2005 murder of Lebanese ex-premier Rafiq Hariri have identified several people who may have been involved in the slaying, according to a report released yesterday.

The report by a UN team led by Belgian prosecutor Serge Brammertz also warned that Lebanon’s worsening political and security situation was likely to hamper the investigation.

The 20-page report said that the findings gathered so far had ”helped identify a number of persons of particular interest who may have been involved in some aspect of the preparation and execution of the attack on Rafiq Hariri or the other cases under investigation.”

The interim document, the eighth to look into the February 14, 2005 bombing that killed Hariri and 22 others in downtown Beirut, consolidated all findings gathered so far and resulted in 2,400 pages of detailed reports covering different aspects of the probe.

It said investigators thus confirmed and advanced their earlier conclusions that “individuals using six mobile cellular telephone SIM cards acted in a coordinated manner to conduct surveillance on Rafiq Hariri in the weeks prior to the assassination.”

“A detailed analysis of the use of these cards on the day of the assassination indicates that these individuals played a critical role in the planning and execution of the attack itself, as demonstrated by their movements and call patterns,” it added.

The report said the enquiry panel also completed an extensive review of information related to Ahmed Abu Adass, the individual who appeared in the video claim of responsibility for the Hariri murder.

It said investigators were able to conclude that Adass was not the suicide bomber who carried out the attack, but that he was either “forced or dupe into recording the video claim of responsibility and then presumably killed,” or that he willingly recorded the video with others belonging to a wider group.”

The 20-page document, which reviews progress made by Brammertz’s panel since its March report, also expressed concern about the deteriorating environment in Lebanon over the past few months.

“Although the commission — in close cooperation with the Lebanese authorities — has put in place mitigating measures to protect its staff and premises, the deterioration in the political and security environment is likely to have a negative effect on the Commission’s activities in the coming months,” it warned.

The report, made available to the 15 members of the UN Security Council, cited the ongoing fighting between the Lebanese army and fighters as well as the assassination of Lebanese anti-Syrian lawmaker Walid Eido and the attack on a convoy of UN peacekeepers that left six of them dead in south Lebanon last month.

The Brammertz panel said its next reporting period would be ”particularly active” in carrying the priorities identified as a result of the consolidation effort, which also covered findings in the probes of 17 other attacks against anti-Syrian Lebanese targets, including the Eido case.

It said more than 200 interviews have been scheduled in the Hariri probe and about 100 others in the 17 other cases, in which the Brammertz panel is providing technical assistance to Lebanese authorities.

The report said the probe of the car-bomb attack that killed Eido last month was “still at an early stage.”

“Primary conclusions provide some information on the type of vehicle used to carry the IED (improvised explosive device),” the report said, adding that the commission “has started to establish possible motives for the attack and to put together a profile of the targeted victim.”

The report also took note of the coming into force last month of the international court to try suspects in the Hariri murder in line with a Security Council resolution adopted May 30.

But the court will not be up and running for several months, according to diplomats and UN officials.

Brammertz’ German predecessor Detlev Mehlis had implicated in the Hariri slaying senior officials from Syria, which for three decades was the power broker in its smaller neighbor.

But Damascus has denied any involvement in the Hariri slaying as well as in the string of assassinations of other anti-Syrian Lebanese figures.

AFP

Güncelleme Tarihi: 13 Temmuz 2007, 09:26
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